Recently Peter Mensah Abrampa, Head of delegation from Ghana to the recent sub regional workshop and Joint Committee meeting organised by the Africa Shippers Council, ASC in conjunction with the United Nations Conference of Trade and Development in Abuja, spoke with Godfrey Bivbere about port operations in Ghana, place of corruption, efforts at increasing export, the volume of its transit cargo, and more. Excerpts
By Godwin Oritse
My name is Peter Mensah Abrampa Head of delegation from Ghana, to the Union of Adrica Shippers Council. I work with Ghana Shippers Authority. As I said yesterday, the transit cargo has increased as a result of a lot of measures that has been put in place. In 2015 it was about 950,000 it came down in 2016 to 150,000 and then in 2017, it went up again to 965,000 or more as I said yesterday a lot of measures are been put in place one of them is the removal of customs barriers the vice president of the Republic of Ghana His Excellency Hamood Baumia Atah Baumia directed that all customs barriers along the corridor today geographically challenged countries like Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali should be removed to make it easy for transit Cargo to be moved to the North.
We as shippers council has also established what we call Transit Shipper Committee which make sure that all the challenges faced by the transistors are addressed so we meet regularly that’s a committee comprising, embers of shippers council from Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali then we have Ghana Shippers Council, who is also a member of that committee then all the Port operators are also members of that committee and so they meet on regular basis to look at the challenges faced by the transistors and also how to address them.
The paperless which was also introduced recently the paperless regime where everything is done electronically which means that once a data is imputed it can be accessed by all state and non state agencies so moving from one state agency to another is avoided and also there is joint inspection you know we have Ghana Shippers Authority, Ghana Standards Authority, they all have something to do with the quality of shipments that is brought into the country.
Previously, each of them will come and take a sample and then go to test that now it has been directed that there should be joint inspection so even if one agency is there, the sample it takes for testing should be for all the state agencies which means that the time spent in doing the inspection and all that is reduced which renew us to the benefits of shippers because cost is reduced moving from one state agency to another is avoided this have all helped you know in increasing transit because the frustration that the transitors face buying large has been reduced.
Port operations in general in Ghana
The numbers are moving up if you come to Ghana now you see that there has been a lot of improvements; the ports is been upgraded with dredging, it’s also being expanded, the ports authority has entered into a joint agreement with AP Molar and have embarked on Port expansion and all of these will help because the congestion at the port will be reduced which makes it easy for Cargo to be located instead of maybe a shipper brings his cargo to the port he’s unable to locate it because of congestion all these things are been addressed to make it easier for shippers to do business at the port eventually, it’s going to bring the cost of doing business at the ports down which will only add to the benefits of Ghanaian consumers.
Major commodity export in Ghana
Major commodity we used to have cocoa, oil is coming up that’s crude oil; we discovered crude oil some time ago the government is trying to encourage the export of other non traditional crops, remember the government has introduced what is known as “One district, One factory”
which is every district in the country is going to have the factory so that raw materials that are predominant in those districts will be processed into finished goods both for export and for local consumption that is trying to help you know increase exports right now we depend a lot of imports and that affects our currency because we need foreign currency to do import and if you are not able to generate enough for foreign exchange it means that every time the balance is against the country which puts a lot of pressure on your currency and it continues to depreciate with it’s attendant cost which is passed on to the consumers this is gradually being addressed once we are able to balance, then at least consumers will also enjoy.
Is China involved in any partnership with Ghanian port industry?
I cannot remember what I know is they are involved in the port expansion and that is as far as a construction is concerned if there is any joint venture arrangement or any joint operations I’m not aware of at the moment but I know they are involved in Port expansion project.
On situation of corruption Ghana Customs.
That is difficult to establish of course you know if people are not doing the right thing they don’t do it in the open and even if people say there is corruption, there is corruption, it’s difficult to prove and once you are not able to provide evidence, that this is what this person has done we will continue to say there is corruption, there is corruption unless we get a prove to show that this is what this person was suppose to have done and this is what he did.
Do you get feedback from shippers?
We get but remember that as we do in Ghana we also educate our shippers, bring the right documentation, declare the right quantities , do the right thing, once you are doing the right thing, nobody will have any reason to compromise you and if you try to do the wrong thing then that is where you are going to have problems so it’s a 2 way affair the shipper doing the right thing and then the state agencies also doing the right thing because if you say custom officers are corrupt, who corrupts them? It’s the shippers who brings their things and probably trying to act honest also attempt to influence the state agencies.
Issue of ISPS, are the ports in Ghana compliant?
I know they are but that is in the domain of the Ghana Maritime authority even though we need a right agency comments but as far as I understand I know Ghana is in compliance with all their requirements.
Trade across border in the sub-region
Just as it was said here yesterday its difficult moving from let’s say Ghana to Nigeria its more difficult than moving from let’s say Ghana to Germany or Holland because we don’t have vessels flying the coastal regions.
Recently, there was company in Nigeria that tried to establish, they came, we signed an agreement they wanted to start a shuttle between Ghana and Nigeria it hasn’t materialised yet but if we have search lines operating along the coast you and i will understand that it will greatly enhance trade cost West Africa.
As it is now its difficult because of the barriers even though we know ECOWAS is doing its best but there are still a lot of barriers it is difficult for me to move from one country to another and i believe if we are able to address the issue of barriers if you want to move from Nigeria to Ghana now I can assure you that a lot of barriers for you to overcome and you know with its attendance difficulties that if all those things are removed it makes it easier to move from one country to another and for that matter to be able to trade amongst ourselves that is a way to go forward.
The issue of sealink, is Ghana buying into this ?
I know they have come to do a road show but I’m yet to know what the agency involved has specifically done to ensure that we participate fully in the sea link and as at now i think it is still on the documentation level.